Taser Guns

Letter to Terry Smith, B.C. Chief Coroner

July 5, 2005

Elmer G. Wiens
204-5555 Balsam Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4B5

Chief Coroner's Office
Mr. Terry Smith, Chief Coroner
Metrotower II
Suite 2035 - 4720 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 4N2

Re: Safe ways to deal with people in a state of "excited delirium"

Dear Mr. Smith

In the article, "Taser death has B.C.'s top coroner asking questions," The B.C. Province, Sunday, July 3, 2005, you are quoted as requesting the assistance of the medical and police communities in 'finding safe ways to deal with people in a state of "excited delirium".'

Newspaper and television reports of the incident in which Gurmeet Sandhu was killed indicate that Mr. Sandhu was pepper-sprayed, jolted four or five times by two different taser guns, and possibly kicked in the chest. About ten RCMP officers from the Surrey Detachment executed these procedures on Mr. Sandhu.

As a football fan, I find it inconceivable that ten men were unable to subdue and handcuff one person, despite his reported — "excited state." If Mr. Sandhu died from a jolt of a taser gun, the use of two taser guns makes it difficult for you to determine which officer's taser gun killed him. Moreover, these taser gun jolts confound the possibility that Mr. Sandhu died from a kick to his chest. Furthermore, how can you establish that these means were inflicted on Mr. Sandhu before he was handcuffed?

It seems to me that the Sandhu's tenant and Mrs. Sandhu overreacted in their complaint. Police officers should be trained to deal with "over-the-top" complaints along with the person complained about. Had he survived, Mr. Sandhu would probably not have been charged.

The newspaper article and television reports do not mention any significant injuries to Mrs. Sandhu or to the first officer that appeared at the Sandhu's place of residence. Apparently, the initial, investigating officer also reacted in an "over-the-top" manner.

I suggest that the ten RCMP officers themselves were caught up in a fit of pack "excited delirium." If this is a fault of their training, then the Commanding Officer of the Surrey RCMP Detachment should be held liable. Otherwise, the officers' themselves should be held responsible, and the guilt of specific officers established.

People are frequently arrested or detained for questioning, with the police officers using force of various descriptions, and then released or charged with some minor misdemeanour. I suggest you also obtain input from the general public, particularly people who have had an encounter with law enforcement officials in incidents in which police have detained or apprehended the person or persons "in the interest of the person or persons' safety, the safety of others, or the safety of the police officers investigating the incident." Interviewing such people on a regular, even if random, basis could provide you with information to establish safe ways for police officers to proceed in effecting arrests or detentions of people, when it is really necessary.


Elmer G. Wiens





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